The Fortification At Es Fortí de Cala Llonga

When I last visited the cliff top fortification at Es Fortí de Cala Llonga in Cala d’Or, some twenty years ago or even longer, it was in a pretty bad shape; one might have called it a ruin. The origins of the fortification may easily go back a couple of hundred years or even more. It might have been built during the 1730s. At that time, surveillance and custody of the coast was a matter of great importance. In an inventory of the year 1832 the military fortress weaponry was listed as consisting of four cannons, a fact that clearly shows the importance and strength Es Fortí de Cala Llonga once had.

Nowadays, the small old fortress stands in good splendour; well, almost. The Military sold the fortress by way of an auction in 1878 and it became private property. In 1992, Es Fortí was acquired by the Fundació Illes Balears who slowly and carefully restored the erstwhile stronghold. It is now open to the public and serves as a venue for occasional festive events, concerts and other cultural and social gatherings. The views over the cliffs towards the coastline of Cala d’Or and the open Med are as good as it gets.

The photos were taken in Cala d’Or, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 6th, 2012. The time was 14:01:11, 13:57:34 and 13:45:16, respectively.

Agatha Christie in Mallorca

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, DBE (née Miller) was born 122 years ago today (September 15th, 1890). You may be interested to know that there is a link between Agatha Christie and Mallorca and not an unimportant one.

In March 1932, Agatha Christie came to Mallorca for the first time, on the last leg of a long journey that had taken her to the Middle East (Luxor, Cairo and Jerusalem) and beyond. In February 1927, the popular British writer had already resided in the Canary Islands, in the town of Puerto de la Cruz.

When she arrived in Palma, she was surprised by the large number of English and American tourists who were in the capital of the Balearic island, making it impossible for her to find a room in any of the three best-known hotels. Everything was packed. She contemplated staying in Formentor instead where hotel prices were considered exorbitant even at that time. Eventually, she passed through Port de Pollença on her taxi ride to Formentor and was immediately fascinated by the view from the bay; she is said to have exclaimed “… this was the site I was looking for…”. Her fascination for the pine trees in Port de Pollença are believed to have inspired her character of Parker Pyne.

Agatha Christie reputedly enjoyed going for long walks from the Hotel Illa d’Or to the lighthouse at Port de Pollença, stopping occasionally at Hotel Mar i Cel for tea. Both hotels, converted to Pino d’Or and Mariposa for literary reasons, became central to the development of the plot of her Mallorcan story, Problems at Pollensa Bay. Agatha Christie probably returned to the hotel in 1935. One of the current owners recalls how his mother repeatedly referred to her as “the writer“. The lighthouse in Port de Pollença was expropriated in 1937 by a certain Generalissimo to build a military base whose first tenants were the German Legion Condor who had earlier treacherously bombed Guernica in Northern Spain, in the Basque Land.

The writer seems to have returned to Mallorca after the Guerra Civil (Civil War). The photo (centre) shows a copy of ‘The Golden Fleece’ by Robert Graves, dedicated to ‘Agatha and Max, love from Robert 1944’, and a letter to Agatha & Max from Robert in Mallorca in 1946 in which he says ‘How nice to send us your blood! Blood donor Agatha! We had already ordered a copy…’. Both items plus Agatha Christie’s telephone directory were auctioned in Cambridge, UK, in 2009.

The photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of sensitivehomeschool.comcheffins.co.uk and accommodationnear.com.

Thank you very much.

The Massive Downpour of 1989

In early September 1989, twenty-three years ago last week, the South-East of the island was surprised by a ferocious Gota Fría, bringing torrential rain and utter devastation with it. Entire stretches of road were swept away, trees were uprooted by the thousands and dragged away, three people were killed when a hotel basement in Portocolom was flooded, hundreds of animals drowned and chaos ensued everywhere. The area around Felanitx and Cas Concos des Cavaller was declared a disaster zone and Reina Sofía (the Spanish Queen) flew in from Madrid to visit the affected area and talk to some of the victims. Rain fell at 06h00 in the morning at a rate of 125 litres per square metre within just 30 minutes. That’s about the same amount of rainfall that one could have expected to fall in one whole year. I had never seen or lived through anything like it in all my life, nor had most Mallorcans.

You may know the mountain of San Salvador, the Felanitx monastery. Believe me if I tell you that twelve rivers originated from that one mountain (many of you would call it a mere hill, at 510 m of altitude) after that rain. One of these rivers passed through Cas Concos, demolished an old country stone bridge and took oak trees of a considerable age with its raging force all the way to the beach of Es Trenc, some 29 kilometres away. Ten days later, no rivers were left, only torrentes, dry riverbeds.

Today’s photo shows the external wall of the Felanitx cemetery. This cemetery filled up, then, like a swimming pool until the Marès built walls could not contain the masses of water any longer nor support the water’s weight. The very walls shown in the picture collapsed in the process and an avalanche of mud and debris swept onto the surrounding fields, including the corpses of four recently buried people. The cemetery of s’Horta was similarly wrecked.

I’m telling you all this because now is the time of the year when the Gota Fría might visit this island. Be alert.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 23rd, 2012. The time was 13:23:37.

The Synagogal Anniversary

Synagogues did not exist in Mallorca between 1435 and 1987. The island’s Jewish community had been banished and eradicated twice, first in 1391 and then in 1544, had been massacred, persecuted, chased away, burned at the stake, killed, executed, exiled, expelled or forcibly converted.

In 1987, the first Mallorcan synagogue for 550 years was consecrated. Last week, the Jewish Community in Mallorca celebrated the 25th anniversary of the opening of the synagogue in Palma. The ceremony was attended by various local authorities as well as the President of the Balearic Parliament, Pere Rotger.

Yehei shmëh rabba mevarakh lealam ulalmey almaya (May His great name be blessed for ever, and to all eternity).

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 2nd, 2012. The time was 11:25:16. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Guillem Bosch.

Muchas gracias.

Mallorca Day 2012

La Diada de Mallorca (Mallorca Day 2012) will be celebrated on September 12th, 2012. The Diada commemorates the pledge made ​​by Jaume II in 1276 of the Carta de Franqueses i Privilegis del Regne de Mallorca (Charter of Liberties and Privileges of the Kingdom of Mallorca), which became the legal basis for the administration of this island. Festivities have already started. Today, there will be a Trobada de Gegants (Meeting of the Giants) in Plaça Cort, starting at 10h00. This year, a week-long gastronomic event will be held in participating restaurants all over the island. Check press for details or else, check the Consell website. A complete programme of activities can be downloaded here (in Catalan).

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 23rd, 2008. The time was 12:35:11.

The Shoemakers’ Monument

Mallorca has a long tradition of shoemaking. We would normally think of Inca as the island’s major leather and show town, but Llucmajor also had an important shoe industry, right up to the 1970s. The town commemorates the brave shoemakers and cobblers of Llucmajor with a large monument in honour of the Sabaters (shoemakers). The sculpture was crafted in Piedra de Santanyí (sandstone) by Tomás Vila in 1963.

The shoe industry in Llucmajor has since almost completely vanished. Where once the majority of working people in Llucmajor were employed by the shoe industry, now tourism is the biggest employer.

Let’s see if one day the waiters, bellhops and room maids of Llucmajor will get their own monument as well. Somehow I doubt it.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Llucmajor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 17th, 2011. The time was 12:54:34.

The Truth in Literature

Literature has always been about the conflict between fiction and reality, the clash between the real and the surreal, the relation between the mind and the written word. Some of these arguments will be explored in Formentor from next week on Friday, during the annual Converses Literàries de Formentor 2012 which will take place at the Hotel Formentor from September 14th to 16th.

Ulysses, Hamlet, Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina and other important personalities in Literature are the topics of this year’s literary colloquium.

Authors participating in this year’s Literary summit are expected to be Pau Faner, Cristina Fernández Cubas, Jesús Ferrero, Carlos García Gual, Eduardo Gil Bera, Irene Gracia, Leila Guerriero, Gabriel Janer Manila, José María Lassalle, Olga Merino, Ana Maria Moix, Javier Montes, Maria Antònia Oliver, José María Ridao, Carme Riera, Manuel Rodríguez Rivero, Marta Sanz, Fernando Savater, Manuel Vicent, Dario Villanueva. The event will be chaired by Basilio Baltasar.

In 1959, the Spanish author Camilo José Cela gathered a group of literary colleagues at the Conversaciones Poéticas de Formentor in the island’s northern-most mountain range. In 1961, this event led to the Premios Formentor competition, which was held again in Formentor the following year, although it would travel to other places in the world after that. In 2008, a revival of these international literary gatherings returned to Mallorca, and has been held in Formentor ever since.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Port de Pollença, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 14th, 2009. The time was 14:28:35. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of elpais.com. It had in turn been taken from the book Historia de la literatura española. Derrota y restitución de la modernidad: 1939-2010. The authors in that photo are (from left to right) Juan Goytisolo (National Prize for Spanish Literature, 2009), Víctor Seix, Camilo José Cela (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1989), Josep Maria Castellet and Juan García Hortelano. Behind, to the left, Joan Fuster and to the right, Josep M. Espinàs.

Muchas gracias.